Mr. President,

I would like to thank the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms Nakamitsu, for her presentation.

Switzerland welcomes the fact that some members of the Declarations Assessment Team were able to visit Syria from 17 to 22 January. These members carried out limited activities, including site visits and logistical and administrative exchanges with the authorities. We look forward to their report, which is due to be published just before the next session of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) this month in The Hague.

Switzerland hopes that this visit can be the first step towards Syria's renewed and full cooperation with the OPCW. And we wish to reaffirm our confidence in the OPCW and all its missions, whose integrity and professionalism are beyond doubt.

Like the 193 States Parties to the Convention, Syria is obliged to accept OPCW-designated personnel, to provide them with immediate and unhindered access, and the right to inspect all sites. This obligation was explicitly reiterated in Resolution 2118 of this Council.

It has been almost ten years since Syria, at the unanimous instigation of this Council, submitted its initial declaration to the OPCW as a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. To date, 20 points of this declaration remain outstanding. We reiterate our request that Syria provide the necessary responses to the OPCW Technical Secretariat in accordance with the decisions of the OPCW's political bodies.

Mr. President,

The obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention have been repeatedly violated in Syria. The OPCW recalled this to the Council last month with the report of the Investigation and Identification Team on the attack in Douma in April 2018, which concludes that "there are reasonable grounds to believe" that the perpetrators were members of the Syrian Arab Republic's air force at the time of the attack.

Our collective security, of which this Council is the supreme guarantor, is based on our firm opposition to any use and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons. Thus, Switzerland demands that the perpetrators of the chemical attacks in Syria be held accountable for their crimes.

More generally, our collective security depends on full respect for international law by all, in all circumstances. We therefore welcome the formal cooperation between the OPCW and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria. It is an important step towards the implementation of Resolution 2118 of this Council and international law, which also includes responsibility and accountability.

This includes in particular the Chemical Weapons Convention, as well as other rules of international humanitarian law, which have as their main objective to preserve a minimum of humanity in armed conflicts, by saving lives and alleviating suffering.

I would like to reaffirm here our common objective: to prevent the use of chemical weapons by anyone, at any time and in any circumstances.

Thank you for your attention.